Public postal service to be more regional
The Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC) has published the results of the working group on universal service instituted by Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard. Since the plans for the development of its network were announced in October 2016, Swiss Post has maintained dialogue with both the general public and politicians. It firmly believes in the importance of discussing the future of the universal postal service openly. That is why Swiss Post explicitly welcomed and actively participated in the working group. The published recommendations mean far-reaching changes, together with the accompanying costs, to the universal service. Swiss Post nevertheless supports the consensus reached within the working group.
In its report, the working group concludes that accessibility of postal services and payment transactions should be measured and presented in a more differentiated manner. The recommendations for the attention of the Federal Council contain much more stringent criteria with regard to this notion of accessibility. It is no longer to be measured on a nationwide basis but per canton. Furthermore, a new criterion will be introduced relating to the accessibility of services in cities and conurbations.
The dialogue maintained by Swiss Post with the general public and politicians should, moreover, be intensified through regular planning dialogues with the cantons. It is a well known fact that Swiss Post has engaged in active dialogue with both the general public and politicians since the end of 2016: the postal network strategy has been discussed in detail with all the cantons, with regional aspects explored and taken into consideration. These discussions form the basis for the evaluation of access points until 2020. Swiss Post welcomes the recommendation made by the working group to continue to institutionalize this dialogue, not least because the recommendation serves to confirm the approach adopted.
Measuring access at cantonal level and a new criterion for cities and conurbations
Until now, the accessibility of postal services and payment transaction services has been measured, checked and published using national values. In the future, these values will be measured at cantonal level in order to place more emphasis on the equal treatment of the regions. In particular, this recommendation of the working group reflects a need of the less densely populated regions of Switzerland and is in line with the decisions of the Swiss Federal Parliament. At the same time, the working group also takes the needs of cities and conurbations into consideration. In order to map living habits in urban areas, it is recommended that one access point be guaranteed for every 15,000 inhabitants or workers. The cantonal approach and the introduction of a new criterion for urban areas are more elaborate in methodological terms than the current regulation. These recommendations nevertheless echo Swiss Post’s desire to provide its services wherever its customers are – both in the country and in conurbations and cities.
Adapting accessibility of payment transactions
In general, payment transaction services should, in the future, be accessible in 20 minutes compared to 30 minutes in the past. With this recommendation, the measurement also takes account of the service introduced by Swiss Post in September 2017 facilitating cash payments at the front door. The recommendation represents a more stringent form of the accessibility criterion; Swiss Post deems it essential that developments in payment transactions continue to be monitored, periodically checked and adapted where necessary.
Maintaining flexibility in the development of the universal service
With the network strategy 2020, Swiss Post will, as already announced, increase the number of access points to more than 4,200. It is taking measures to increase the attractiveness of the different access points within the postal network, in particular the branches with partners. It is important to Swiss Post that its services remain accessible for sections of the population with little affinity for new technologies. Swiss Post is clearly committed to and continues to invest in physical access points within the postal network of the future.
Globally speaking, the provisions with which Swiss Post must comply have been made significantly more stringent through the recommendations, and its entrepreneurial freedom has been restricted from a legal standpoint. Swiss Post is nevertheless willing to support the recommendations of the working group and to test their implementation in practice. To avoid the universal postal service becoming mired in the status quo, it is nevertheless essential that the legal requirements be periodically evaluated and brought into line with reality.
Susanne Ruoff, CEO: “The issue of network reorganization affects Switzerland as a whole. In 2016, we adopted an approach characterized by transparency and dialogue. That is why we welcomed the working group on universal postal service. Thanks to its composition, the results are broadly supported. Despite more stringent accessibility criteria and the associated costs, Swiss Post supports the consensus that has been reached. We want to provide a strong public service in Switzerland also in the future.”
Léa Wertheimer, Head of Swiss Post Media Unit, 058 341 08 84, email@example.com